The international union that governs skating said Tuesday that it was following the recommendations of the International Olympic Committee in banning athletes from Russia and Belarus from its competitions across the sports of figure skating and speed skating. It becomes the latest organization in the sports world to take action since Russia began its military invasion of Ukraine.
The IOC on Monday took the unprecedented step of calling on sporting organizations around the world to ban the two nations from competing, urging global sports federations to “protect the integrity of competitions for the safety of all the participants” by excluding athletes and officials from the two nations.
Belarus is an ally to Russia and allowed Russian troops to pour over its southern border into Ukraine as the invasion began last week.
Russia had already been banned from international sports competitions through the end of this year for doping. Those sanctions kept them from competing as a country in the past three Olympics, including the recent Beijing Winter Olympics where its figure skating athletes were at the center of another drug scandal.
The International Skating Union council said in its statement today that “with immediate effect and until further notice, no Skaters belonging to the ISU Members in Russia (Russian Skating Union and the Figure Skating Federation of Russia) and Belarus (Skating Union of Belarus) shall be invited or allowed to participate in International ice skating Competitions including ISU Championships and other ISU Events. The same applies to Officials listed in the respective ISU Communications and/or Regulations under Russia and Belarus.”
The ban means Russian and Belarussian skaters will not be able to participate in the ISU World Junior and World figure skating championships later this month in Bulgaria and France, respectively.
Russia and Belarus already this week were barred from women’s tennis’ Davis Cup & BJK Cup tournaments, with individual players allowed to compete but with no country affiliation, a designation that mirrors the Olympics referring to Russian athletes as competing for the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) rather than Russia because of the doping ban. Soccer’s governing bodies FIFA and EUFA this week also banned Russia from competing in World Cup qualifying, effectively ending the nation’s chances to participate in the tournament.
The ISU was at the center of the biggest controversy of the just-wrapped Beijing Olympics, where Russian 15-year-old Kamila Valieva was widely expected to take the gold in the women’s figure skating competition, with Russia’s 2021 world champion Anna Shcherbakova and Alexandra Trusova the front-runners to complete a podium sweep.
But news broke during the first days of the Games that Valieva tested positive for a banned substance at a previous event in December, tarnishing her performance in the team competition where Russia took the gold. The Court of Arbitration for Sport ruled Valieva could continue to compete, stunning longtime followers of the sport, but that there would be no ceremony if she won a medal. She ended up faltering in the free skate and finished fourth; Shcherbakova and Trusova took the gold and silver, respectively, with Japan’s Kaori Sakamoto winning bronze.
Shcherbakova, Trusova and Valieva were expected to compete at the ISU World Championships, set for March 21-27 in Montpillier, France.
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